MBTA deaths up marginally since 2004

By Gal Tziperman Lotan, News Staff

Michael Cordo, a 21-year-old Boston College senior from Sudbury, was crossing the tracks just east of the Boston College T stop the morning of Nov. 17. He did not notice the Green Line trolley headed toward him, according to local media reports.
The trolley’s operator said he sounded the horn to warn him, according to the report, but Cordo was wearing headphones. He was struck, and taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital with serious but non-fatal injuries.
Cordo was not the only pedestrian to be hit by the T, busses or commuter rail trains in recent months.
Eleven people were killed by Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) vehicles in 2008, eight of them, ranging from 5 to 76 years old, by commuter rail trains, according to a Huntington News analysis of local media reports.
This marks a rise from 2004, when four were killed, but is consistent with the 11 MBTA-related deaths in 2007.
Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 173 people were injured while riding or operating MBTA vehicles, according to a Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis report. Injuries ranged from minor cuts and bruises to amputation.
The number of non-fatal injuries nearly tripled from 65 in 2007 during the same time period.
Some incidents were accidents, while other are suspected to have been suicides. In Cordo’s case, the driver of the second trolley car had a blood alcohol content level of more than the MBTA’s .02 percent limit, though it was less than the .08 percent legal limit.
Many students said they have had close calls with the Green Line, particularly while crossing Huntington Avenue.
‘I’ve almost gotten hit by the T several times, but it’s usually my fault because I’m on the phone or something,’ said Cecilia Johnson, a sophomore psychology major.
Students should pay more attention to their surroundings, but T drivers need to do their part as well, she said.
‘I feel like the drivers have more control than they let on,’ she said. ‘They sometimes try to get as close as they can before beeping and scaring you.’
Other students said they do not think or worry about the issue.
‘I’ve never really seen it happen,’ said Ashley Cocilovo, a freshman architecture major who said she takes the T fairly often.
An MBTA Transit Police officer stationed in the Green Line Kenmore station said if there is an accident, Transit Police are supposed to call Emergency Medical Services and halt service.
‘It’s a common thing that definitely could happen,’ said the officer, who said he was not authorized to give his name.
The officer said he would not interact with witnesses on the platform or train who were not hurt.
Two officers in Ruggles station, however, said everyone in the premises would have to stay on the train until detectives arrived and collected witness statements.
‘If it’s a fatal accident, we would tape the area and keep everyone out to preserve the integrity of the scene,’ one said.
Three MBTA spokespeople did not return phone calls for comment.

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